The Brother MFC-7860DW is a monochrome laser printer that doubles up as a scanner, copier and fax machine. Priced at around £280, however, it's relatively expensive compared to rivals like the HP LaserJet Pro M1536dnf. Is it worth the extra moolah?
This printer's footprint is relatively small, but it expands towards the top to accommodate the flat-bed scanner. Finished mainly in matte black, it's no great beauty, but multi-function printers never are. At least it's not totally offensive in terms of its appearance.
The control panel is mounted on a sloping edge at the front and includes a small two-line monochrome display, along with dedicated buttons for the fax, scan and copy functions. There's also a keypad for dialling fax numbers, a four-way cursor pad, and eight quick-dial buttons for storing frequently used fax numbers. The display is quite small, but the printer's menus are reasonably easy to find your way around, helped by the fact that the menu structure doesn't actually run that deep.
When it comes to setting it up, this model really couldn't be more straightforward. You simply remove a few protective strips, take out the toner cartridge, give it a shake to make sure the toner is evenly distributed, and then load up the drivers on your PC.
The printer covers all the connectivity bases -- USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections are all supported. You're given the option as to which connection method you want to use when you install the drivers, but you can also set up the printer to work with your Wi-Fi network directly, via its front control panel.
The bottom of this model houses a pull-out paper tray with the usual capacity of 250 sheets. Above this, there's a small, flip-down, single-sheet feeder that can be used for printing envelopes and other odd paper sizes.
Brother has also added an automatic document feeder on top of the scanner, allowing you to automatically copy or fax multi-page documents without having to manually feed in each sheet separately. This can accept up to 35 pages at a time, which should be more than enough for most users.
The scanner produces acceptable, but not spectacular, results. Colours look quite accurate, but it wasn't quite as good at picking up fine detail as some others we've used.
Nevertheless, the scanner is quick at photocopying, producing a black and white copy in just ten seconds. The quality of the results isn't wonderful, though -- there's plenty of heavy banding in areas of grey fill.
The MFC-7860DW produces prints at a fairly rapid pace, though. For example, it took 37 seconds to print our ten-page black and white text document, and 33 seconds to print our ten-page business presentation. When it came to producing ten pages of our black and white graphics test document, it took 35 seconds.
The printer's also reasonably fast when it comes to two-sided, duplex printing. It managed to complete five double-sided pages of our text document in 1 minute and 3 seconds.
Text print quality is excellent. This printer produces really crisp and clean characters even at very small font sizes. It's not quite as impressive when working with graphics, though. Our business presentation showed plenty of banding in areas of grey fill, and there was a fair amount of dithering on show in our graphics document.
This printer uses separate drum and toner cartridges. The drum lasts for around 12,000 pages, and the toner cartridge lasts for either 1,200 pages or 2,600 pages, depending on which capacity you go for. Using the high-capacity cartridges, the printer's running costs work out at around 3p per page, including 0.7p for paper costs. That's not too bad compared to HP's LaserJet Pro M1536dnf, which costs around 3.6p per page. HP's printer is cheaper to buy in the first place, however.
The Brother MFC-7860DW is, on the whole, a decent multi-function printer. It offers a broad range of features, pumps out pages at a fairly fast pace, and produces good-quality text output. We just wish its graphics output were cleaner.
Edited by Charles Kloet